Amjad Aljagthmi

Post Doctoral Fellow

Past Members


Bldg. 2, level 3, 3326 - 09


I completed my PhD in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology in Dr. Madhavi Kadakia’s laboratory at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA. During my PhD work, I identified microRNA-320a, a tumor suppressor microRNA, as a novel positively regulated target of the transcriptional factor p63. I found that p63 leads to the inhibition of cancer cell invasion and metastasis via upregulating microRNA-320a. Further, I characterized the signaling pathways involved in regulating the activity of the small GTPase Rac1. Utilizing a panel of human cancer cell lines, I showed that p63 inhibits cancer cell migration and invasion via downregulating the activity of Rac1 by inhibiting the expression of protein kinase C gamma (PKCg). Since Rac1 induces the cytoskeleton rearrangement and leads to the formation of plasma membrane ruffles, my findings suggest that p63 knockdown may reduce tumor cell invasion through multiple signaling pathways that control Rac1 activation. Finally, I also led a project that elucidates the role of p63 and ERK3 kinase in regulating gene expression in psoriasis utilizing specimens from normal and psoriatic patients. 

Research Interests

I joined the STEMD laboratory at KAUST in June 2022 to work as a postdoctoral fellow. Our laboratory has been utilizing a panel of human pluripotent stem cell lines to understand the transcriptional and epigenetic dysregulation in Klinefelter syndrome (KS) and High-grade X- chromosome aneuploids (HGA) disorders. I am currently leading a project which dissects the role of a set of differentially regulated genes in KS and HGA using embryonic stem cells approach. Further, I am working on a second project where we are establishing a 3D culture protocol for the maintenance and expansion of human pluripotent stem cell self-aggregates. 

Selected Publications

1. Alshammari ES, Aljagthmi AA, Stacy AJ, Bottomley M, Shamma HN, Kadakia MP, Long W. ERK3 is transcriptionally upregulated by ΔNp63α and mediates the role of ΔNp63α in

suppressing cell migration in non-melanoma skin cancers. BMC Cancer. 2021 Feb 12;21(1):155.

doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-07866-w. PMID: 33579235; PMCID: PMC7881562.


2. Aljagthmi, A.A., Hill, N.T., Cooke, M., Kazanietz, M.G., Abba, M.C., Long, W., Kadakia,

M.P., 2019. DeltaNp63alpha suppresses cells invasion by downregulating PKCgamma/Rac1

signaling through miR-320a. Cell death & disease 10, 680.


3. Sakaram S, Craig MP, Hill NT, Aljagthmi A, Garrido C, Paliy O, et al. Identification of novel

ΔNp63α-regulated miRNAs using an optimized small RNA-Seq analysis pipeline. Scientificreports. 2018;8(1):10069. pmid:29968742.


  • 2021 Ph.D.: Biomedical Sciences: Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Wright State University College of Science and Mathematics, Dayton, Ohio, USA
  • 2017 M.S.: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio, USA
  • 2012 B.S.: Biochemistry, King Abdullaziz University Faculty of Science, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Professional Profile

2022-Present: Postdoctoral fellow, Laboratory of Stem Cells and Diseases, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

2022-Present: Certified senior specialist of medical laboratory-Genetics, Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS)

2021: Postdoctoral Researcher, Wright state university, Dayton, Ohio, USA

2012-2013: Analyst, Research and Development Department, Jamjoom Pharma, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


2023 1st Place winner for the poster session, KAUST research open week, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

2020 Pharm-Tox Clinical Translational Research Grant

Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA


2020 The winner of Weisman Travel Award for the best PhD student’s presentation Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA


2019 The 2nd place PhD platform presentation award

Ohio Valley Society of Toxicology


2019 Peter K Lauf Travel Award for the best poster in the biochemistry and cell biology section The Ohio Physiological Society


2018 King Salman Scholarship to pursue Ph.D. degree

Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia


2013 King Abdullah Scholarship to pursue M.S. degree

Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia


2009-2012 Excellent Academic Achievement Award

King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

KAUST Affiliations

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)